As of March 31, it is now legal in New York State for people over the age of 21 to possess up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes. In addition, certain people currently behind bars for marijuana-related offenses will have those sentences expunged. However, New Yorkers should still be wary about openly partaking in the substance, because it has not been legalized on the federal level.
Explaining New York’s Legalization of Marijuana
Under the new law, anyone 21 or older can possess up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational purposes. They are also allowed to possess up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis, such as cannabis oil, and they can use, smoke, ingest, or consume any products made with those substances. In addition, it will be legal to sell marijuana in New York State, provided that sellers comply with any regulatory requirements issued by the state. Also, the smell of marijuana coming from an individual will no longer be a legally valid reason for police to conduct a stop-and-frisk of a pedestrian.
Anyone who wants to smoke the drug, however, must adhere to the same requirements that tobacco smokers must when it comes to where they can legally smoke. Local municipalities can opt out of allowing it to be publicly smoked, and private businesses can choose to prohibit marijuana smoking on their premises. In addition, while it is legal for someone to smoke in their private residence, a landlord may choose to prohibit smoking in their rented property.
Legally Buying Marijuana in New York
The new law will allow the state to issue retail licenses for marijuana dispensaries, where those products can be legally purchased, as well as licenses for delivery services. Dispensaries may also apply for separate on-site consumption licenses, which will be required for dispensaries to legally allow people to consume marijuana on their premises. Municipalities may choose to opt out of allowing dispensaries in their borders, but cannot prohibit delivery services from operating in their jurisdiction.
Potential Complications With Federal Law
While marijuana is legal in New York State, it is still a controlled substance under federal law. This means that people who run afoul of federal law enforcement may still face legal penalties for purchasing, selling, or possessing marijuana or marijuana-derived products like cannabis oil. In addition, just because it is legal in New York does not mean it is legal elsewhere, and New Yorkers who legally purchase marijuana in their own state could still face legal problems if they transport it with them to other states. However, for many New Yorkers, this new law is a sigh of relief, and a potential opportunity to rid themselves of unfair criminal charges due to marijuana possession or use.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.